Most states, including Florida, have “Good Samaritan” laws to incentivize us to help during an emergency. These laws protect us from litigation when we volunteer and after we help someone in a crisis.
Whether you are a volunteer, a medical worker or just a good person, state law safeguards your attempts to help so long as you act within certain parameters.
The Florida Volunteer Protection Act grants civil immunity to nonprofit volunteers. This immunity applies as long as a volunteer acts within their job description, according to behavior a “reasonably prudent” person would exercise under similar circumstances. This means that if you exercise good judgment and do not overstep the demands of your position, you are generally not liable for incidents that occur as a result of your actions. Note that this immunity does not protect intentional or grossly negligent actions, nor does it extend to the nonprofit who hired you.
Similarly, state law protects those offering medical assistance to someone in an emergency so long as the caregiver acts in good faith and with reasonable regard for the person’s well-being. The same laws protecting professional emergency medical providers can protect you. These laws require that you show concern for possible consequences and do not place the person at greater risk than before the intervention.
If you find yourself in such a situation, it is important to contact law enforcement or instruct someone else to do so before an attempted rescue whenever possible. It is also generally a good idea to use no more force than necessary and to remain with the injured person until the authorities arrive.
These exceptions in the legal code do not grant total immunity by any means, but they do provide some measure of protection for caring citizens in Florida.